Introduction: Cultural and Historical Background

  • Gertrude Stein
Part of the Bedford Cultural Editions book series (BCE)


William James called Three Lives “a fine new kind of realism” (Gallup 50). Sherwood Anderson claimed it had helped make him into a writer. And what reviews saw print were favorable (see Part Two, Chapter 5). Avant-garde readers saw Gertrude Stein’s 1909 fiction as an impressive experiment, describing three lower-class women characters in strangely repetitious language, so that the good Anna, the gentle Lena, and the controversial Melanctha left indelible impressions. For those readers who ridiculed the very notion of the avant-garde, Stein was a strange Parisian, the “Mama of Dada,” a person to be avoided rather than read. As a proponent of the dadaism movement, Stein joined other artistic minds and challenged established canons of art and literature, thought and morality.


Historical Background Philosophical Discourse Great Love High Emotional Content Impressive Experiment 
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© Bedford/St. Martin’s 2000

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  • Gertrude Stein

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